Understanding the self-absorbed, demeaning, manipulative, controlling, and competitive narcissist and how to stop being a do-gooder and losing yourself…aligned with the Biblical Cain and Abel story

Posts tagged ‘cainist’


The Cainistic Paradox


“She didn’t like to be alone. Even more, she didn’t like being with people.” ― Elizabeth Strout, from the novel Olive Kitteridge

Dependency is the cainist’s bugaboo. He lives in a fantasy world where he’s  special to a fault and the Enabler has no value. Yet, he’s dependent on the her to obtain admiration and attention, to pilfer her thoughts and ideas, and to use her as a model or prototype on how to act in public. A sympathetic Enabler has saved a haughty cainist from the gallows more than once. He knows this and loathes it.

His selfishness wears thin over time. One study showed that cainists became unpopular after 7 weeks or after approximately 2.5 hours of contact time. [i] However, that doesn’t stop him from exploiting, devaluing and discarding the Enabler when she is no further use to him.

A cainist will use an Enabler to put him through college, then ditch her when he lands a lucrative job. One cainist, who had trouble keeping a job, remains with an Enabler because she brings home the paycheck, then boasts to everyone that he only has to work part-time and loves it.

There’s little, if any, loyalty from him. Once he’s convinced that he’s too exceptional to remain with a minion, he quickly, and often abruptly, moves on. In romantic affairs, he usually lands someone new before he leaves the previous Enabler because he hates being alone. He’s like a vulture, picking at a carcass for the last remnants, then ditching it when there’s no meat left on the bones.

[1] Why Are Narcissists so Charming at First Sight? Decoding the

Narcissism–Popularity Link at Zero Acquaintance


How To Spot A Cainist – Who Does That?

egoHow do you decide if you’re in a normal relationship, one that is overly selfish or with a true-blue cainist? Perhaps, this will help to identify the person who keeps you tied to drama.

Cainists are: (1) Obsessively self-absorbed, (2) Jealous and envious, (3) Grandiose, (4) Rigid, (5) Superficial and shallow, (6) Insensitive, (7) Think they’re special, (8) Crave endless attention and admiration, even worship, (9) Demand loyalty regardless of merit and (10) Refuse to offer an honest apology in which they admit their fault. They might say they are “sorry” something worked out a certain way, but they will never admit that their conduct and choices caused you pain or harm. Their pride and arrogance will always override your feelings. They are the type who, to use an old cliché, can’t see past the end of their nose.

However, their biggest deficient, which sets them apart from a normal relationship, is lack of empathy and the inability to recognize emotions in others. Martha Stout, author of The Sociopath Next Door (2006) points out that cainists “are able to feel most emotions as strongly as anyone else does.” The problem is, the empathy and emotions are for themselves, not others.

Therapist Sandra Brown, who writes a column for Psychology Today and author of the book Women Who Love Psychopaths: Inside the Relationships of inevitable Harm With Psychopaths, Sociopath & Narcissists (2008), explains that there is a spectrum of empathy. At one end is the sociopath who has no conscience or empathy and at the other end is the cainist who has extremely low levels of both. Cain knows the difference between right and wrong–socially, legally and ethically–but mostly he doesn’t care if he violates the rights and needs of others if it interferes with what he wants, needs and desires.

TV personality Bill O’Reilly, host of the Fox cable show “The O’Reilly Factor“, is a major example of someone who is lost in thought about his own power and brilliance, and lacks empathy or concern for others. It’s common for him to yell “shut up!” to his guests several times throughout his show. Some of that might be for the ratings, but as Sandra Brown suggests, if you have doubts about someone’s conduct and behavior, stop and ask yourself the question: “Who does that?” If it doesn’t fit into a reasonably normal paradigm, one with a conscience and compassion for others, you’re probably looking at a cainist…or worse.

One of O’Reilly’s callous comments stands heads about the rest. It related to the Shawn Hornbeck kidnapping in 2002. The eleven-year-old boy, Shawn, was kidnapped while riding his bike in Richwoods, Missouri. It took almost five years for him and another boy to be found and rescued from the kidnapper. News reports revealed that Shawn had had occasions to escape, but didn’t. The explanation turned quickly to the idea of the Stockholm syndrome—a state of mind that sometimes develops in hostages where the hostage or a victim becomes attached to his captor in a desperate act to survive.

Lacking normal, human compassion, O’Reilly dismissed the Stockholm Theory, accusing the child of liking his new situation because he didn’t have to obey his parents, go to school and could do whatever he wanted to do. In reality, during the first month of captivity, Shawn was tied to a futon all day, sexually abused, and his abductor terrorized him with threats that he would be killed if he didn’t do exactly as he was told. Although O’Reilly was condemned for his cruel insensitivity, he never apologized or admitted he was wrong.

Who does that?

In closing, perhaps, the quote from big shot character, Buddy Ackerman, in the 1994 film Swimming With Sharks sums cainism up best:

“What you think means nothing. What you feel means nothing. You are here for me. You are here to protect my interests and to serve my needs. So while it may look like a little thing to you, when I ask for a packet of Sweet-N-Low, that’s what I want. And it’s your responsibility to get what I want.”

That, my friends, sounds exactly like words that would come from an arrogant cainist’s mouth.


Cain Needs A Scapegoat

1_123125_2093564_2208788_2213739_090317_sci_narcissism2tn.jpg.CROP.original-originalCainists couldn’t survive without a scapegoat—someone or something on whom he dumps his faults and inadequacies. Without a scapegoat, he would need to accept responsibility for his behavior, and that won’t ever happen. As mentioned before, it’s vitally important that Cain views himself as the good guy dressed in white and the Enabler as the bad seed dressed in black. Scapegoating, then, is equal to the funny line, “The devil made me do it” used in the seventies by the late comedian and actor Clerow Wilson, Jr., known professionally as Flip Wilson. The line became a national catch phrase to deny accountability. By all means scapegoating is anything but funny. It’s painful.

Projection and scapegoating, although unfair, let cainists disassociate from feelings of failure and shame. He’s brilliant, an Einstein. The Enabler is dumb, a sucker. He kicks off a smear campaign to make her look appalling or slothful so he can look awesome and ambitious. He’ll suck up to authority even though he holds intense rage toward all authority to project a false image to hide his real feelings. And when he maligns someone, he cleverly merges humor into his projection to make it seem palatable or publicly acceptable.

Cain’s scapegoats include everything from loved ones to business associates, from his car to the weather—anything that shifts the blame beyond himself. For example, when condo resident, Angela, scratched the paint off the wall with her fingernail and accused the contractor, Mason, of applying only one coat of paint, he adamantly denied it, blaming the problem on defective paint. In other words, the subnormal paint was the scapegoat for his inaction.

It’s sad that families and organizations throw cherished members under the bus, but it’s done all the time in dysfunctional systems, such as, alcoholic homes and cainistic families and organizations. It might take the Enabler years to understand that she was set up to deflect Cain’s inauthentic, deceitful behavior so he can look better than Jesus Christ himself. In fact, some Enablers go to their graves feeling like complete failures when they did nothing wrong. According to psychiatrist M. Scott Peck, scapegoating is “the genesis of human evil.”

The insatiable envy of a cainist

handcuffsAlthough similar, there are clear differences between the emotional states of envy and jealousy. Aristotle defined envy as “the pain caused by the good fortune of others.” Thomas Moore called it “the longing to live someone else’s life while spurning one’s own life.” Those two quotes describe Cain’s envy precisely. He will become spitefully envious if the Enabler has an idea more important than his. Or for that matter if her idea is valued at all. Likewise, he lives for praise but takes potshots at anyone who steals his thunder.

That’s exactly what happened in the church I attended. When a new minister joined the ranks, he preached an exceptional first sermon. Attendees were raving about it and praising him. No one outperforms or outshines Cain—ever. He’s insanely envious if the congregation loves or venerates any staff member. For the next year this new cleric sat in the front pew every Sunday listening to Cain’s sermons before he was given another opportunity to preach again, and only then because Cain went on a vacation.


Remember the psychological game of  projection discussed earlier?

Remember the psychological game of  projection discussed earlier? Specifically, that Cain projects his character flaws onto others in an effort to dump them?  For decades a woman named Piper was conditioned to believe that Cain’s character defects were her flaws.

Due to her overweight, she was judged abnormal, lazy and lacking in will power. Unfortunately, society as a whole passes these same judgments about obesity, but Cain illuminated Piper’s imperfections to deflect his own shortcomings.

She recalls how strenuous and exhausting it was as a morbidly overweight child to walk eight blocks uphill to school. About midway she struggled for the next lungful of air. When she was very young, she simply sat down on the grass or sidewalk for a spell to catch her breath. Because Cain was interested in one agenda——his own—with no empathy for her, he projected his impatience, calling Piper lazy and deciding that she only wanted to play.

These myths went unquestioned, perpetuated within the family. Yes indeed. Piper was lazy. She just liked to have fun. No one ever considered that she was, in fact, carrying two people uphill every day due to her size. She wasn’t lazy, she was out of breath. The truth was, Cain didn’t like to be inconvenienced—ever. “But I grew up feeling as if I had to strive twice as hard as anyone else to verify that I wasn’t lazy,” explained Piper. Now, as an older adult suffering many health issues, she says it makes sense why her body wore out at an earlier age.

About a decade ago, while she worked tirelessly on a project, her mother announced emphatically, “You certainly aren’t lazy!”

“It seemed to be an original awareness for her,” explained Piper. “I was momentarily astounded, knowing how hard I worked on everything all my life. But finally, she felt vindicated because her mother had seen the real Piper. This mother had automatically accepted Cain’s opinions and impatience without ever editing them for accuracy.  Piper had been viewed by her family as lazy for half a century simply because a cainist had little tolerance for anyone but himself and projected his limitations onto Piper.

All of which sets up the Enabler for further cainistic connections and abuse. This abuse is familiar, therefore, she draws the same exploitation into her life time and again. And it isn’t just laziness that’s projected. It’s any affirmative attribute which threatens Cain’s weak ego.

If she’s empathetic, then he announces that she’s too dramatic; if she’s adventurous, then she’s unstable and doesn’t comprehend risks; if she’s spiritual, then she’s gullible; if she’s smart, she isn’t nearly as smart as he is. Piper remembered feeling absolutely dumb all through school and was shocked when she went to college and landed on Dean’s list and received multiple compliments from professors about the term papers she wrote.

If Cain can’t compete with a quality or talent, such as being inventive or artistic in a certain area, then he dramatizes his shortage. Now, the Enabler’s creativity is nothing compared to Cain’s unimaginative side. His inability usurps her abilities. It’s astounding how many ways he can nullify the Enabler to regain center stage. 

She must relentlessly insert a question mark behind everything he says about her and to her. Otherwise, she will breathe life into his self-absorbed, trumped-up proclamations, giving him the power of projection to devastate the very fabric of her existence.

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